Jenn Stuczynski Clears Sixteen Feet - What's the big deal?

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As luck would have it, I have been one of the few to see Jenn Stuczynski's two American records this season upclose and personal.

At the adidas Track Classic, on May 20, 2007, I was standing at the fence, speaking to meet official Jan Johnson, the 1972 bronze medalist in the pole vault and the chairman of the Pole Vault Safety Standards Committee, and Dave Nielson, the coach of Stacy Dragila. We noticed that the officials were measuring the bar for a record jump. Jenn was attempting 4.84, or 15-10 1/2 inches, one half inch higher than the current AR held since 2004 by Stacy Dragila.

As Jenny's coach, Rick Suhr, would describe later, this was an iconic moment in the sport. Stacy Dragila has been the icon in the pole vault since 1996 in North America. Her wins in 1999, 2000, 2001 at the world's and Olympics were monumental in developing a following for the event. As Stacy dealt with injuries over the past few years, the event started to loose its standard bearer.

Now, Stacy is on a comeback and Jenn Stuczynski is about to clear heights surpassed by no other American. When Jenn Stuczynski cleared 4.84, or 15-10 1/2, she became the third best performer in the world and the American record holder.

Only Svetlana Feofanove, who cleared sixteen feet, 4.88 meters in 2004, and Yelena Isinbayeva, who cleared 5.02, or 16-5 1/4 in 2006, have jumped higher.

In speaking to Jenn right after the AR in Carson City, she said, " I was lethargic today in my warmup. I did not feel that good. I had no idea it would be a record day!" The look on her face was of surprise, but also, it was clear that this young women was developing some confidence in herself and the training program of her coach, Rick Suhr.

Then comes the Reebok Grand Prix on June 2. Shuyin Gao, of China, cleared 4.64 meters or 15-2.5 for a new Chinese Record. " I did not want to go out at 4.64 meters, " noted Jenn Stuczynski to the press afterwards. So, she let her clearances do the talking. Stuczynski had the bar raised to 4.88 meters, or sixteen feet.

Her first two attempts should have been clearances, but, there were small technical glitches, and the winds in Icahn were troublesome. Her third attempt, under the lights provided by the stadium, was witnessed by the entire crowd as Jenn Stuczynski became the second equal performance ever and the second best performer in 2007 with her clearance of sixteen feet!

The signifigance of these two American records is that they happened in absolutely unkind conditions. Normally, all is perfect for records - good winds, cool, and this was just the opposite.

Rick Suhr and his athlete have created a training platform where the athlete succeeds in difficult conditions. In the old days, we called that callousing. She trains in a small quonset style barracks, with a few lights, a roll up runway and a few friends. How lucky she is...

For more information on Jenn's Jumping, check out the links for atf newswire vol 10,
number 7 and 8, located at www.american-trackandfield.com.

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